Moribito Episode Thirteen “Neither Human nor Tiger”–Review

by on November 16th, 2010
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We open with a warrior type who seems to be very angry because someone is alive. The scene shifts to the water mill where Chagum is cleaning up the bonfire from the Summer Solstice Festival. Some kids turn up with a message from a “warrior.” Balsa reads the letter, the content of which is a challenge to fight. Balsa is extremely unhappy about this. She tells Chagum to pack his things and get ready to leave.

The next scene, Balsa is talking to Tanda about the situation. We learn that this particular warrior is something of a business rival. He had apparently spotted her at the solstice festival and now he wants to fight her again. She plans on meeting him, which Tanda thinks is a very bad idea. (We get a brief shot of Chagum looking extremely unhappy and guilty.) Balsa however, feels that she has to meet with him, though she might have to kill him. (She does not want to kill him, because she has promised not to kill, but she realizes she might not have a choice in the matter.) She leave Chagum with Tanda and heads off.

She meets up with the warrior, who has abandoned his sword for a spear because he wants to kill Balsa with it. (Apparently, he was really impressed with her moves with a spear.) She is not able to reason with him. He threatens to kill the first traveler to leave the town gates at sunset every morning until she agrees to meet with him.

The scene cuts to Balsa, who is waiting at the town gates. The first traveler to leave the gates is a Yakoo teacher and her servant. When the teacher’s horse goes wild, Balsa catches it, and discovers that someone had shot the horse with a bullet from a crossbow like device referred to as a “stone shooter.” Balsa follows the teacher, much to the discomfort of the servant, who sees Balsa as trouble. The teacher however attempts to be friendly, though she’s a little nervous as well, especially when it becomes clear that Balsa is following them.

The teacher and her student head to a rest stop, and Balsa joins them. She does not bother to explain the situation. When the servant goes to the rest stops well, it turns out to be fouled. (Probably sabotaged by the warrior who has it in for Balsa.) The teacher and student head off, and it begins to rain. The scene shifts slightly, and we can see the warrior, who is hiding in the trees, and Balsa.

Balsa and the teacher end up sharing the same shelter. The teacher attempts to be friendly, but Balsa is very stand-offish. The servant meanwhile is increasingly hostile, though the teacher mediates. They engage in small talk, though when the discussion wanders into professions, there is a certain amount of discomfort. The teacher tells a story about a warrior who becomes a tiger due to an obsession with becoming the most powerful warrior. She tells the story she says, because she can sense an air of menace coming from Balsa. Balsa apologizes and leaves. The servant is gleeful at the way his teacher chased off the scary warrior, but the teacher is upset, because that hadn’t been her intent. The teacher had wanted to ask her questions about being a warrior, and the story had been intended to break the ice.

Balsa heads outside, where the warrior has his stone-shooting minion shoot at her. (Deliberately missing; the point here is to keep her awake and off balance, not kill her just yet.)

The next morning, the teacher and student head out again. They do not get very far before they once again meet up with Balsa, who apologizes, but states that she’ll be accompanying them. The servant is extremely unhappy about this, but the teacher scolds him for being rude. Balsa starts to explain that there’s a reason why she’s following them, but the servant panics and jumps onto the horse behind the teacher, and drives the horse ahead. Balsa tries to warn them, and as she does, the stone shooter guy decides to strike.

The horse falls, and servant and teacher are knocked off the horse, which runs off. Balsa approaches, and the frightened servant attempts to shield the teacher. Balsa explains why she had been following the teacher, then goes off after the warrior. She also explains that she had previously sworn to never take another life, and states that it’s clear that she will not be able to keep that promise. The servant is less than sympathetic, and throws fit at her.

Balsa meanwhile, shouts for the warrior to show himself, which he does. She tells the teacher and the servant to head off as quickly as they can. They head off running, and the warrior tells Balsa that the teacher and servant are his shooter’s “reward.” This completely enrages Balsa. She attempts to chase after the teacher and student so she can rescue them, but the Warrior takes off after her. The warrior and Balsa have a running battle up the mountain until she lunges and shoves him back. She decides at that point that she has no choice but to kill him, and attack him in earnest.

Meanwhile, the student and teacher encounter the stone thrower, who demands their money. (Of course, he still apparently plans on killing them.) The servant throws the money and then launches a surprise attack which drops the stone thrower. The servant tries to get the teacher to come with him, but she wants to stop Balsa. The servant is extremely upset and doesn’t understand why they can’t just let Balsa and the warrior kill each other. The teacher however does not want Balsa to become a “tiger” by breaking her oath.

We shift back to Balsa and the warrior, who are now fighting in a bamboo grove. They reach a stopping point, and Balsa explains in detail the nature of her oath. She explains it in such a way as to make it extremely clear that while the warrior was obsessing over her and thinking of her as a nemesis-level rival, that she had no consideration for him at all. She tells him that she swore an oath not to kill because she was tired of killing insignificant scum every time she saved someone’s life. Then she attacks him again.

We cut to the teacher, who is frantically running. The battle she sees is between the warrior and a tiger, and she’s calling out to Balsa, telling her not to kill the man. Then we see Balsa and the warrior again, and she strikes what looks like a killing blow. (I really liked the imagery with these scenes.) The teacher approaches, and Balsa yells at the teacher, declaring that she’s a tiger, and stalks off.

The warrior however, is not dead. He is just completely devastated because Balsa did not consider him to be her nemesis-level rival. He is much shaken and somewhat miserable, and when questioned, there seems to be gaps in his memory. He does not remember Balsa’s name, all he knows is that he is completely miserable because she thought that he was insignificant. He wanders off.

The teacher sends her servant after Balsa, who believes that she killed the warrior. We end the episode with the servant just catching up with Balsa who looks extremely furious. Then we go to the ending credits.

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